Why Analog?


New member
Hello...Im looking to get set up and am trying to figure out which way to go. I am looking at either a Tascam 388 reel to reel 8 track circa 1985, or, getting one of these 8 track digital jobs for the same price.

Why would you choose analog (or digital if applicable)?

Is it a myth that good analog will get you a "richer" sound? If so, then why use it? If not, why do people goto digital (for the ease of manipulating data?)?

I'd go for digital. You can always run a digital track thru a tube compressor or similar outboard gear to warm it up. Yes, digital is easier for editing. And I believe that alot of people here will agree that if youre going digital, why not do it on your PC?
Two different monsters. Why try to get one sound from the other? Well, the answer is money for most people. However, that answer is true only to the people looking at semi-pro gear (most of us). When looking at the real pro gear (whatever that may be), then I don't believe that's the reason; and I really don't know what to tell you, except this: If you're going for the "analog sound", use analog. Me, I want both worlds. So that's what I have.
Please forgive me, but what IS the "analog sound"?

When you say you want and have the best of both worlds, what do you mean? Do you record on analog and then mix down or master in digital? Would that option give one the best of both worlds?
No. What I mean is I own an Alesis ADAT-XT digital 8-track, a Tascam TSR-8 1/2" analog 8-track reel-to-reel running at 15ips w/dbx, and about to begin working on a custom 2" analog 24-track reel-to-reel running at 15 or 30ips designed by Hayne Davis of Davisound, all for tracking. Also, I own a DAW in my personal computer, an HHB 850 digital CD-R/CD-RW recorder, a Fostex M-20 1/4" analog 2-track reel-to-reel w/timecode running at 15ips w/dbx, and eventually need to buy a DAT recorder and replace the M-20 with a 1/2" analog 2-track reel-to-reel running at 15 or 30ips and possibly w/Dolby SR, all for mixdown.

This way, I have many options to choose from; all depending on many factors including what the client wants or can afford (because of media costs).

Same thing with your outboard gear such as preamps and compressors. I wouldn't want all tube gear or all transistorized gear. It's all the same idea with mic; the circuitry, the cap sizes, etc. Of course, I'm still not done gathering my min. for outboard gear and mics.
Hi, Recording Engineer
You caught my attention with your comment that you own a TSR. I am considering 1/2" options. Are you happy w/ it? Are you familiar with Otari MX5050? Comparisons or other suggestions to consider?

My email is tleigh@ameren.com if you prefer to discuss offline.

I actually like the TSR-8. A lot of people don't realize you gotta push the hell out of it though. With it, just beacuse the signals off the LED scale, it's not goingto hurt it.
If you purchase one, just make sure the heads are in good alignment and make that puppy fry. Also, I actually love the sound the dbx noise reduction adds to it.

As far as comparing to the Otari MX5050, which I've not used myself, some have mixed experiences. I know a lot of people who say the MX5050 will smoke any TSR-8. I've also heard many people say the MX5050 is really not that great of a machine; especially for being an Otari and would take a TSR-8 over it any day.
Tubes can only add even distortion to your digital recording. This resembles what happens when you slam tape with a signal.
The deal with analog is that it is ANALOG!!
An actual curve of an actualy sound and not a binary representation. Did you know that humans are able to perceive a delay of 15 microseconds. The delay between snapshots taken by the digital recorder are greater than this until you get to a 192khz sampling rate!!!! Then digital will perceptively sound ANALOG.
Silent Sound: Hey- let's tone down that claim a tad. You say that humans can discern a 15 microsecond shift in the program that will be noticeable in sample rates up to 192KHz. I say you'd better amend this to say, "Some Humans" instead. A 1/2" 2-track Scully sounds really nice no matter who is listening.
Can you hear when something is to the right or left of you?? If you can hear the difference, you are hearing at the very least, a 15 millisecond delay. That's how we interpret location. Your mind biangulates by the fact that something to the side of you reaches one ear before the other. Since we are able to notice down to a 15 ms delay, it doesn't make you silly in the head to think that 44.1 doesn't sound as "real" as analog, or a higher sampling rate. The first cd weezer did says AAD on the back....tracked analog, mixed analog, mastered to digital. Before i was aware of this, I thought it was the most natural sounding new cd i ever heard. I blame it on the fact that we aren't hearing numbers, but actual voltage changes causing speakers to move causing pressure changes. And it's fine not to believe this aspect of it, but I am fairly certain that tubes complement digital only by sounding like the saturation of tape which is not always a desired effect in recording. Sometimes straight, clean, analog recording is what you want. Just for the sound of actuality. or something like that i gotta go do push ups........
OH yeah....it(192khz) only numerically and scientifically rids of the perception of delay. True it may not be ideal for all humans. I am sure that at 96k it is probably unnoticealbe by many. Look at the primitive stuff Donald Fagan's nightfly was done on. They had to really ride the faders to prevent dither noise!! Hard to believe I was being born as that was being recorded.........
I personaly think digital is more "natural" or "real" sounding than
analog. That's funny considering factual technology (how it all works)
of digital and analog recording. Wouldn't you think the opposite
considering analog is the actual "smooth" and consistant waveform
whereas in digital, it samples to create a new waveform which looks
nothing like the original waveform, but stairs.

That "analog" and "tube" sound so many people are trying to achieve is
really just the "perfect" amount and type of compression and EQ; and
probably tons of other stuff I don't even know about or even exsist.
Actually, I think analog is extremely un-natural; that doesn't mean we
don't love it. And just because we love it doesn't mean that's what we
always want. The same thing can be said for naturality and digital.

Both worlds is the way to go for me:

Apples and Oranges
Analog and Digital
Tubes and Transistors
Large and Small Microphone Diaphragms

Of course, money is what it all really breaks down to as far as this;
for now. Yes, there will come a day that a computer will be able to
digitally stimulate everything in the analog world. But I wish not.
How boring. Although, I don't have anything to worry about. It's not
gonna happen in my life-time.
I hope it happens in our lifetime. Then i can just laugh and say that we had that sound since i was born and they wasted 20 years digitally imitating it until they merely match the sound except maybe without a touch of hiss(character!!)
I bought a new TSR-8 in 1993. I'm very happy with it's sound reproduction. It's true, you really can smoke the meters without distorting the sound.I have nothing against digital-multitrack and hope to get one soon. However, I'll never give up my reel to reel. There's just something about watching those wheels go 'round and 'round.
I guess this conversation is already over but I have to disagree with the statement that our mind interprets the location of sound soley by the difference in time that it reaches our ears. I would say that volume plays a very large part in it. If you disagree then try this experiment. Put only one headphone on and cover the other ear so no sound bleeds through. Can you tell which direction the sound is coming from? If our brain only used delay you wouldn't be able to. I'm not arguing whether or not the human ear can sense a 15 ms delay. I personally have no idea, but your example doesn't prove your argument.
I didn't say it was the only factor...... eq detemines height and distance amplitude is obviously a factor too if you ever had your hands on a pan knob and headphones on your earss............no delay there.... i read this awsome article before don't remember if it was online or not
Silent Sound --- I got to challenge that comment about humans perceiving a 15 microsecond delay. That statement has flat out got to be wrong! The vast majority of people wouldn't even notice a 1-millisecond delay. A microsecond is one millionth of a second --- There is absolutely no way someone could notice a 15 microsecond delay!
Now, I'll agree that most can perceive a 15 millisecond delay. That's a delay of 15 thousandths of a second. But in 15/1000 of a second, you have about 660 samples (at 44.1k sampling rate). So the whole logic of Silent Sound's argument goes out the window. Do the math!
Massala, just getting back to your origional question; go analouge. I made the mistake of getting a digital 8-track, naively thinking that there was no difference except in sound quality. The catch is the amount of time you have to record. Digital requires huge amounts of memory to record sound; so if youve got a machine that can record, say, 90 minutes of sound, thats all up. You record on one track for four minutes, youve got 76 minutes all up left. You can work it out. With analouge, you can buy the tapes and there is your time, however long one side of a tape is Obviously if your recording at higher speed its shorter, but its still working out cheaper in the long run, unless you dont want to have recordings you made a while ago. A lot of people use computers to store their music, but even they will tell you how much memory it takes to store just a bit of music. The other advantage with analouge, as far as I'm concerned, is that its much more "hands on"; you can see whats going on. To me, tape hiss is no problem, if your doing your recordings as well as you can, thats all that counts. Can you hear the music? Do you like the music? Thats all that counts. Stick with analouge.
i totally agree. go analog. yea you will ahve to keep up the maintainence on your reel to reel, but it is all worth it. the space requirements for digital is annoying. and clipping can be a pcin in the fucking ass. you wanna fry your kick, snare and toms to tape? digital, watch out. but then again, its really what you want. just my opinion. and also, the hands on effect does make you feel one with the music. and then you can always mount your tape on the wrong way and get funky reverse sounds from cymbals, and sustained guitar notes. i like analog. sonusman likes digital. you like what you like. i hope its analog!